Episode 6: Basmah Sweet & Pastry
Address: 3403 Nolensville Pike
Look, I'm skipping around again! While I promise to get back to the linear path I had originally laid out for this column, this week I had to cut in line. Last weekend I ran into a chef from The Yellow Porch, and he basically convinced me that reviewing Basmah Sweet & Pastry was of the utmost importance. And you know what? I'm going to listen to a dude who's running one of Nashville's favorite food institutions — doubly so if we're both standing outside a Zappa show nerding out about food. The chef insisted that the sweets and pastries at Basmah were some of the best in the entire city, and I, after ordering 3 pounds of assorted goodies and scarfing about half of them, am totally inclined to agree.
• The $1.50 tacos at Taqueria San Luis #2, just opened in the former Flatrock Cafe space at 2624 Nolensville Road. Connoisseurs claim the original San Luis, located just off I-24 on Harding Place, has the city's best tacos, with juicy chunks and shreds of meat from the blazing smokers out front that billow aromatic fumes across the neighborhood. Woodbine neighbors had been watching the new San Luis' progress closely, and it does not disappoint: The pork al pastor and pollo al carbon tacos are fantastic, spritzed with lime, dusted with cilantro and arranged on homemade corn tortillas. And the prices can't be beat: We served four adults and four kids a feast of chile rellenos, enchiladas, tacos, a quesadilla and a fine crimson-brown mole poblano for less than $25.
• The $1.50 ice-cream bar at the Nashville West Costco. Not an item found in the frozen-foods display, but available at the lunch counter located in the front of the store. It's a thick slab of vanilla ice cream on a popsicle stick dipped while you watch in a bath of chocolate coating. If you ask, they'll roll it in a bed of chopped almonds, producing a huge frozen treat with a half-inch crust of chocolate and toasted nuts. Next to this, a Dove is a mere titmouse.
Got a dirt-cheap delight you'd care to share? Let's open the gate on our weekly Open Thread and see — and feel free to share whatever's on your mind.
Nashville Whiskey Fest
Sept. 22, 2012!!
That's right folks, this is a big deal! On Sept. 22, the 1st Annual Nashville Whiskey Festival, sponsored by your favorite wine and spirits store, will take place at the War Memorial Auditorium. It will be one of the biggest events to hit Nashville and will be packed full of stars and gems of the whiskey world. With Tennessee being not only one of the largest whiskey consuming states in the world, it is also one of the largest whiskey producing. It's only proper to throw a festival in celebration of one of America's favorite spirits. What happens at a whiskey festival, you say? Here's just a few things we have in store for you:
Special tastings through the week leading to the event
30+ distilleries & breweries participating
Educational seminars put on by master distillers
Special VIP hour w/ rare whiskey tasting
Barrel aged beer
Special seminar on the art of whiskey cocktails featuring Tim Laird, America's C.E.O. & cocktail guru
There's all this and so much more to come. Follow us on Twitter (@Nashwhiskeyfest & @midtownwine), Facebook and Email to get the latest information as it comes out!
When: September 22, 2012/ 1 to 6 p.m.
Where: TPAC War Memorial Stadium
**Ticket info to be released very soon
In honor of their upcoming Whiskeypalooza, Midtown Wine and Spirits are celebrating by opening three different whiskeys from Four Roses this afternoon. I'm personally a big fan of Four Roses, so you can probably expect to be in line behind me from 4 to 7.
Fido and Bounty Bev are getting together for another one of their wildly successful Beer and Food Tasting Dinners on Thursday, Aug. 2, starting at 7 p.m. the event will be $50 per person, inclusive and features what looks like a fantastic menu from Chef John Stephenson:
The building located at the corner of Woodland and 16th streets has a lot of history that Holden-Bache and Graham are striving to revere. They've left the kitschy "Boutique Coiffures" handpainted sign on wall of the 16th Street side and have even managed to retain the original phone number of that business so they didn't have to repaint. They have also fabricated a spectacular wooden sign to hang from the same pole as the original Coca-Cola sign from the days when 1520 Woodland St. was a small grocery store. The latest tenant before them was John Guider and his photography studio, so you know the space has great light, accentuated by the huge windows that cover the entire front wall of the dining room.
Tall ceilings reveal the original 30-foot rafters, and the huge walls will serve as gallery space to display archival photographs of the building's history. Graham's mother and aunt, partners at Twisted Sisters Arts, have created a gorgeous copper facing around the restaurant's wood-fired pizza oven that will be a centerpiece for the room. They also repurposed the original stamped-tin ceiling into attractive accent pieces to complement the recovered barn wood and patchwork recycled trim that decorate the rest of the space.
Holden-Bache's menu is not at all recycled, though. He has filled multiple legal pads over the past few months working out his list of opening dishes. I've had a peek at the menu, but he wants it to stay secret until opening night which is scheduled for Aug. 9. I can share that there will be happy hour specials that include some innovative and affordable snacks for sharing while you sit at the comfortable bar serving cocktails and local brews or at the short chef's bar with a view of the kitchen and a front-row seat for the pizza floor show.
But as far as a food festival dedicated wholly to Solanum lycopersicum, it's hard to beat Atlanta's Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival, now in its fourth year. This festival benefits Georgia Organics, a nonprofit connecting organic food from Georgia farms to Georgia families, and features some of the Southeast’s best chefs, mixologists and farmers working together to create novel and delicious dishes and drinks featuring the tomato.
The event is organized by chef Ford Fry of JCT Kitchen, one of my favorite restaurants in Atlanta. (Plus, it's right around the corner from IKEA in case you want to skip the Swedish meatballs and lingonberries on your next shopping trip.) This year 37 chefs are teaming with over 30 tomato farmers to prepare a single dish for judges and attendees to sample and vote on. One of our own, chef Tandy Wilson of City House will be heading down this Sunday to represent for Music City.
He'll be competing against a "who's who" of Atlanta's best culinary minds.
I’m a casual user myself; I check in every few days, mostly to browse from my phone or to pin a recipe from my food blog. The food and drink category is the most popular, so, you know, I need to keep up. And because it’s the most popular category, it was inevitable that there would be Pinterest dinner parties.
Yes, Pinterest dinner parties: dinner parties that include dishes, decor and activities found on Pinterest. It’s a thing.
Sometimes, it’s subtle. Maybe you go to a party and there’s a garlic cheesy bread and some rainbow fruit skewers. Or maybe your host has set the table with candles made from clementines, place cards attached to Mason jars, and has the whole room lit by glowsticks in balloons, with food ranging from single-serve crudites to Nutella swirl cookies. If you don't follow your host on Pinterest, but do follow on Twitter or Facebook, you'll likely know very quickly what's going on. You're at a Pinterest Party.
I haven't been to one. Yet. But several of my Twitter friends have, and one has even hosted her own. Anyone been to or hosted a Pinterest Dinner Party? If I hosted a dinner party based on my Fuds board, my guests would be eating a lot of popovers and quinoa. I'll get right on that.
Lucky for all of us, I've discovered a few perfectly palatable pool pounders to get us all through until Labor Day. My first find is The Loop Sauvignon Blanc from Barkers Marque Vineyards. This fruity little wine is from the Marlborough region of New Zealand, which means you should expects a fresh, green taste profile with strong elements of bell peppers and a hint of jalapeño on the nose. The Loop delivers all of these and more with some additional notes of pineapple and passion fruit. Now this wine is by no means complex; it has a finish about as long as a pug's tail, but it is ultimately refreshing and should be drunk with ice crystals from the cooler still clinging to the bottle. At $10-12 per bottle, you can afford to keep that cooler full. This wine would pair very nicely with a nice piece of fish cooked on the grill and topped with a light lemon sauce. In fact, it would pair so nicely, you should invite me over when you try it.
Longtime readers of "Wine Wednesday" know that I'm a big fan of Vinho Verde wines from Portugal during the summer. Part of that preference comes from the fact that my girlfriend loves wine with intense citrus notes, particularly grapefruit. Once I discovered that Vinho Verdes were right in her wheelhouse, I became a fan as well. 'Cause if momma ain't happy ...
And for those who recoiled at the Gray Lady's story last month, which cast East Nashville as a land of "hipsters," doing hipster things in hipsterrific ways with hipsterical results, it's worth noting this story never uses the word "hipster" once. But more to the point, it's actually written by a Nashvillian: veteran journalist, style guru and occasional Scene contributor Libby Callaway. (The much-maligned item was penned by the NYT bureau chief in Atlanta, Kim Severson.)
Whether or not you agree that using the word "hipster" is misguided, evil or just plain lazy — or stand with Jack Silverman in defending the occasional usage — it's nice to read Callaway's description of East Nashville, which I find a lot more informative and sensible in tone than some other stories that have popped up in national media. (Full disclosure: I used to work with Callaway years ago at the Tennessean and the erstwhile magazine All The Rage.)
And Callaway offers up an enticing news nugget: She says Barista Parlor's Andy Mumma is working to open a new venue with a famous partner:
Now, some barbecue trucks do it well. Papa T's in Hermitage cooks out of a portable smoker, but he doesn't move it very often. Smoke et Al puts out some great food too, but for the most part the barbecue I've had from food trucks around the country hasn't been able to hold a candle to a good old-fashioned pit.
Lately, I've begun to hear some Twitter chatter about a place called Slow and Low BBQ Bistro, so I figured I'd go check them out. The first thing I noticed was their address. Actually, that they had an address, 195 N. First St. I'm guessing unless you park on that side of the river for Titans games or you're a fan of the low-budget wrestling at the Stadium Inn, you've probably never been to this location, tucked between the river and the I-24/James Robertson Parkway interchange.
But to their distinct advantage, Slow and Low has a regular spot where you can find them Monday through Friday when the barbecue urge strikes you. They have ample parking in the gravel lot, and they have even constructed a small commissary kitchen behind the trailer for food preparation. Plus, they actually have a sign just like a real restaurant that will give you the time and temp. These are all quite positive developments. On weekends, they pull up the anchor and travel to festivals and concerts to serve their wares, so perhaps you've seen them at the Wanderland Urban Food Park at Elmington Park or at concerts at Fontanel.
Their food truck is very well-constructed 30-foot long mobile kitchen, and I was pleased to see they were using an Old Hickory brand smoker. From my experience, these smokers put out some very consistent food and are excellent for smoking different types of meat at the same time. Slow and Low doesn't try to do too many things, which is another positive.
"What a great morning at the farmers market!!! The vendors LOVED hearing how I was going to prepare what I bought."
"I am tying up brownies in rustic string!!! Because that is how most people eat them."
"I judge the quality of your character by the brand of cocoa powder in your pantry."
"At home depot. What kind of wood should I buy to beat with a chain so I get a rustic background?"
But this post is intended to be less about what food bloggers say and more about what many of them don't say. And that is, "How does it taste?" and "How hard was this to make?" Notable exception: Leah of So How's It Taste?, who actually formatted her blog to let readers know the vital information. I am likely guilty of this myself. When writing a blog, it can be difficult to include all the information that's pertinent to readers and instead just talk about one aspect of the recipe, such as why you chose it.
Anyway, I love food blogs (Hi, food blog friends!) and I do get inspired by them (and sites such as Pinterest, Foodgawker, and Tastespotting), but when I'm searching for a recipe that's not in my (large) collection of cookbooks, I tend to gravitate toward the recipe aggregators that have ratings and comments submitted by other cooks rather than to an unfamiliar blog. Just a Pinch Recipe Club (based in Franklin) is a great place to start, but I've also gotten a lot of mileage from Allrecipes.com, Epicurious, and Food.com. I comb through the comments looking for tips and tricks as well as any indication that something was not good or too difficult to make. I've just had way too many failures in the kitchen (mostly baked goods) and don't have the time to take chances. I'm not talented enough in the kitchen to know how well something will work just by looking at the recipe.
All that said, any go-to sites for can't-miss recipes I should know about?
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@GrilledCheeserie, that's great news! We will do our best to be there!